Experts Be Damned – I Am Speaking From The Heart

Most of you reading this know that music is my profession. Like any artist striving to create a small business from their craft, I spend a fair amount of time learning about how to communicate with people in ways that are meaningful to us both. One of the ways I have decided is right for me is blogging. Blogging is a way I can communicate with my people no matter where I am. It’s a place to share new song ideas, muse on the worldview that shapes the songs – which in my case is decidedly magickal – and to generally converse with like-minded folk. While social network sites feel like being at a party, my blog is where I can invite folks into my living room. It’s more intimate, more personal, and ultimately where I feel most comfortable sharing the deeper parts of myself.

Because I am fairly new to blogging, I wanted to learn from those who’ve had some success. I have spent the last year and a half reading all sorts of blogs, signing their mailing lists, working through their workbooks, participating in blogging groups, etc. And they’ve all been really helpful. But at the end of the day – I am throwing much of it away. The time has come for me to stop listening to others’ voices, so that I can better hear my own. Oh, not forever. Listening to others is pretty crucial to having genuine relationships!  But – for a little while, I need to tune into the voice of my own inner expert.

The reasons are twofold:

1) I have come to feel that doing all these programs has become an excuse to distract myself from diving into my own work. “I just need one more workshop to break through my stuck places and THEN I can start!”  I am not saying we never need these things, and in fact I can recommend a dozen if you are finding yourself in a stuck place. I’ve sampled several over the last 18 months! But what I am saying is that for my part, I have gotten what I can get out of them for the time being,  and they have become busy work/distraction from actually applying what I’ve learned.

2) A lot of the information isn’t relevant to me. Such as the blogging formulas that purportedly get people’s attention. Apparently I am supposed to be putting out “How to” blogs to help make your life better. But the thing is…I don’t write “How-to” manuals for helping make your life better.  I sing songs. My blogging isn’t about blogging. It’s about music. Same thing applies to the “7 ways to make your (whatever) more epic”. These blogging formulas are supposed to get me more readers because I am helping you to find the answers you are seeking in your life. And therefore more folks will discover me, leave comments on my blog, and I will rise in the ranks of Google.

That all sounds contrived as Fuck. At least for me.

I know some excellent bloggers who do these things in a way that feels authentic, and I have learned a lot from them. but it is time to move on.

It is time for me to stop “learning” – at least for awhile – and tune into my own voice. I may not have 7 tips for you to lose weight, make money on the internet, or be more like me.  I may not have epically inspiring things to share every day. My most epic work is going to come in the form of songs, because that’s how I roll. I am not setting out to become an A-list blogger. Only to share more about the places my music comes from. If you are moved by my music perhaps you’ll want to read my blog.

A year and a half ago, when I started reading these blogs, and learning how others have built their online businesses, I did learn a lot. But for the past several months I have been trying to extract the same inspiration I got when I first discovered some of these folks (Chris Guillebeau, Goddess Leonie, Connection Revolution to name just a few) and it’s just not there anymore. And the worst part?

It has actually kept me from blogging. Because I go into “second-guessing myself” mode. Is what I am writing “useful”? Am I really helping anyone? Is my content “Epic” enough?

The way I help others is to write music that cracks my heart open. If my own heart cracks open, I know that some others’ will too. And boy could this world do with a lot more open hearts!

So that’s what this blog is going to be. My journey to crack my heart open – through beauty, wonder, mystery, music, hope, joy, sorrow. The journey to feel the depths of this world as fully as possible. You are welcome to come along.

So where am I at right now?

I am raw, my loves. I am doing what I love, what I have longed to do my entire life. And I fear that it is not enough. All the time, I wonder if it is selfish and self-indulgent. Shouldn’t I be more “activist-y” somehow? Shouldn’t I be doing more to “Save The World”?  And always, Howard Thurman’s famous quote comes to me in those moments – “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”. This is a guiding light for me as I  navigate my way through these feelings.

Also –  the money is sporadic at best. So I confront fear every single day. Every day that I am not living under a bridge and still get to write songs and plan tours is a day that I am allowed to be fully alive. And this compels a gratitude like nothing ever has. And yet I am acutely aware of how fragile this is, and that I must work tirelessly to bring myself to a more stable place with it all.

Now that I am living as a full-time musician, there is no way I could ever stop. I have never felt so alive, so fierce, so full of magick and hope. So I must find a way. And if I can’t, I honestly think I would rather starve than let the songs inside me go unsung. For what? For safety? No way.

Finding and expressing the songs that live inside me is, at my core, what makes life worth getting up for every day.  I will find a way through this path of traveling the world singing my songs, or I will starve. I will not let my fear and uncertainty lull me back to the unsatisfied sleep I was in for so long. I will create my life on my own terms or die trying.

And it is this call, to follow my Siren Song despite the dangers, that compels me to return to the Siren myth as a songwriting theme over and over again.

Do you have a Siren Song you follow? As always, I invite you to share your stories in the comments. It’s so much more fun to share a conversation than to talk to myself!

24 thoughts on “Experts Be Damned – I Am Speaking From The Heart

  1. The time has come for me to stop listening to others’ voices, so that I can better hear my own. Oh, not forever. Listening to others is pretty crucial to having genuine relationships!

    I’m liking a lot of what you are saying here. There ARE lots of pages/blogs with good advice. But I’ve also reached a saturation point with the not-so-good ones, where everybody and her uncle, sibling, and third cousin-twice-removed are writing pages telling us what we should do – without telling us who they are, or giving details as to they are trying to fix, or why. Self-proclaimed experts providing one-size-fits-all solutions, without recognizing their readers as being different, with different desires and different needs.

    So – yes, please. Speak from your heart! Speak from your experience! Tell us who you are; how you feel; what you’re trying to do (and why!); what works for you; what doesn’t. Examples we might make use of, rather than blind direction.

    Give us your unique voice – an online (or in person) relationship. rather than the autotuned voice of would-be-teacher hiding flaws and humanity, substituting speculation and knowledge for experience and wisdom, rather than taking value from all. Let me know who you are, and I can look for the similarities between us I can learn from. Trust me to take responsibility for realizing when I’m making excuses to avoid choices you’ve made, and when I know myself well enough to recognize I’m needing something different. Help me realize that I’m not the only one who feels things in certain ways. Let me feel like we’re both here because we have something in common, rather than wanting increasing hit counts and coolness without really caring what the other is actually saying/reading/doing.

    Give us something real, that feels the way your music feels. Something that is you, in all your aspects! The siren that leads us to bliss, and not the illusion that calls to captivity.

  2. Good for you Sharon – you’re doing what makes you uniquely you! I did a mentorship last year and what I learned was that you do these courses etc until you no longer need them, and that’s precisely how you know you’re ready for the next step.
    It sounds like you’re more than ready – those learnings and experiences are what got you here but now you’re ready to ‘level-up’ as they say.
    I also don’t write ‘how to’ blogs, I keep meaning to but they just don’t come naturally. I think in the end we all find our own way to where we’re supposed to be.
    Beautiful website by the way!

  3. Thanks for writing, John and Leanne –

    John – I like to think I do write from my heart. But when I get bogged down is when I start thinking about how to be a “better” blogger. Somehow I am supposed to inspire or entertain or teach..and then I don’t blog at all. It has taken (is taking?) me a while to find my voice as a blogger. And I think when it comes down to it, I want to think about it the way I described in the post – my blog is my virtual living room. Facebook is like a cocktail party. Twitter is like a networking meeting. But my blog is where I invite you to my home. Where we can take our shoes off and talk from our hearts about what moves us. What makes us cry. What makes us laugh. I can just be real, rather than “try” to offer you something of value. And in so doing, maybe we will both offer each other something of value!

    Leanne – “How-to” blogs don’t feel natural to me either! It’s funny, Chris Guillebeau was one of the first people I came across who inspired me to no end online. His Art of Non-Conformity is just awesome. But before you know it, I started seeing all kinds of other bloggers talking about non-conformity and “Unconventional” this and that. Suddenly everyone is trying to be like Chris Guillebeau!. “Unconventional” has become quite the convention amongst bloggers! It is so important to find your own voice, even if it’s not what the experts say we should be talking about. But “trying” to reach people is never what actually does.

  4. Forget the formulas – they are boring and passionless. Sharon, I love it when you get all fierce and feisty – that’s the passion that’ll draw the people to you who want to hold you to your siren song!

    I too spent much of last year focusing on blogging on my own site, writing guest blogs and inviting people I respect (like you, my dear) to guest post on mine. And yes, it did increase traffic and I did some lovely networking…but mostly it did not lead to money in the pocket which was the whole purpose.

    I had an epiphany over Solstice that I am not a writer. I can write well – it is in firmly in my toolbelt – but it is not my craft. That was a huge a-ha as I had to ask myself “why am I spending so much energy on something that is not my creative passion?”

    Since then I have gotten very lax with blogging and not feeling guilty about it. I post when I want to, I showcase my artwork and I worry less about how “useful” it is. It’s freed up so much energy to focus on what I love and I know the work will follow…it has to :)

    So keep singing and musing and sharing you and don’t worry so much about those boxes and checklists. Looking forward to what comes forth in this space.

  5. Oh, you said it! Thank you!
    I too, have grown tired, insecure and quiet after spending some time reading, watching videos and buying (and buying and buying) information from business and marketing coaches. And yes, the whole point of it seems to be a never ending cycle of signing on for that one more thing that’ll make all the difference on the business end of thing. I’ve found some things useful and appreciate the information and inspiration, but I’m not really a life coach, I’m a Witch. I’m a Mom. I’m a cook. I’m a gardener. I don’t want to spend hours every day “marketing” my work. I don’t want to learn programming code. I don’t really want to check and post on 5 social networking sites and 25 blogs per week. If I do that, there’s no time to shower, let alone do my work! I want to DO my work. I want to BE my work.
    Like Jo, I can’t do the whole “how to” thing. Not gracefully, anyway! Not without coming off as pretending perfection or just plain telling people what to do. I like asking questions. I like rants. I like provoking people to move out of their comfort zones–even if it means pissing them off. So, yeah. I haven’t been writing my blog and truth be told, I’m pretty tired of coming up with something I hope is brilliant to say on facebook everyday.
    Thanks for saying out loud what I’ve been thinking.
    Maybe now, I can write my long over due blog post!
    Love and Power to ya. And keep making music! It makes your heart sing and ours.
    Karina

  6. Sharon, this really speaks to me, the authenticity with which you write. I was finding myself at a loss for words recently, feeling like the expectation I put on myself to blog was taking from another important part of my creative expression- making art playfully. I too have found myself distracted by other blogs & “shoulds”.

    Thank-you for sharing from your heart!

  7. I don’t blog but I got sucked into facebook a while ago. When I ran into problems, I dropped it without then reservation. More time for beading, my passion. then came the next epiphany. I’m a seed bead artist, not a bead stringer. So out went the beads for stringing. I focus solely on beadweaving. Since doing that I found a venue to sell my work. And as a bonus, I’m the only beadweaver at the shop among half a dozen other venders.
    You keep your focus on your music. It’s what you do and you do it well. Don’t let others change your direction. I love your music. All of it. The Pandemonaeon and solo stuff. Just come back to MN some time soon. I’d love to see you again.

  8. Heh heh Karina, I know what you mean re: coming up with brilliant things to say on Facebook! Folks have been getting rather too many cat pics from me lately! Or sometimes I just don’t post at all. It is such a tricky balance. You want to reach more folks to get more clients or gigs or sales so you study that for awhile and then before you do even a 10th of it you realize you are no longer doing your work. Soon you will be an “Expert Marketer” and no longer a teacher!

  9. Hi Jo!

    Thanks for stopping by! It is interesting to hear you say that all the guest posting etc. you did, did not lead to more $$ in your pocket – especially since that has been on my to-do list for awhile, and I have been wondering how the heck I am going to get to it when i can barely keep up with my own blog! That is a perfect example of any number of the things I want to just cross off my to-do list to simplify my life and get back to what matters – creating music.

    And congrats on your own epiphany in this regard! I am just having mine now and I already feel hugely freed up. Luckily I do like blogging – expressing myself in words is akin to songwriting after all – but damn. I am so ready to let go of thinking about all the things I “should” be blogging about, and just write wherever I am at. Once a week, on Fridays, I will publish a blog post. And it’s going to be about wherever I am at at the time. And trust that it will be connected to the music I make, because both come from my authenticity.

    When it gets right down to it – I have no effing idea how to “market” myself. And I don’t want to become an “Expert Marketer”. So I am going to try throwing out all the “techniques” and just do my best to be awesome. Hopefully that will be enough, for both you and I!

  10. Hi Lori!

    I plan to contact Sacred Paths this very day to see about booking a show. I am coming through late June.

    I am so glad you found a venue for your work! It is good to hear that sticking to what your true passion is bears fruit!

  11. When I started my blog I decided right off the bat that I wasn’t interested in being a “journalist”. The goal of my blog is to share the music I love with whoever might also love it. I don’t bother reviewing or sharing stuff I don’t like; it’s not “fair and balanced”. It’s a showcase for my passions. But when it comes to a blog by someone like (say) Sharon Knight, I guess I do sort of expect a certain level of epicness, but at the same time as a squealy fanboy sometimes I want to hear the boring everyday stuff…on one hand it builds a connection in the respect that I see my hero as human after all, and on the other hand it makes me feel special, like I am privy to information as a fan that the average person on the street doesn’t know.

  12. Hi there Gregor –

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is worth mulling over that perhaps my readers want to read about the epic rather than the boring everyday stuff. I doubt I will ever be one to post about what I had for lunch, or that I am doing my laundry today. And I will always speak from my own vantage point, which I like to think is fairly poetic! ;+) So you probably don’t have too much to fear in this regard, but I will take your comment to heart. After all, if I just end up chattering about whatever, I probably shouldn’t be maintaining a blog. It is my intent to stay on topic, which in my case is musing on the things that inspire me, and thus fuel the songs I write. Even when expressing vulnerabilities, I will endeavor to keep to the tone of what I am deepest committed to in life. I was just getting bogged down in what I “should” be writing about based on what the “expert” bloggers say. And in truth, my whole trip has nothing to do with Google rankings.

    You may like my posts better now, in fact! For a lot of the “Why you should blog” stuff I’ve been reading that has been stifling my voice is about “drawing in customers, etc”. And if that is a person’s motivation for writing, it is going to sound like it. Before you know it you are thinking far too much about “how to sell your shit” and less about the things that really matter to you in this world. Of course I hope to sell my shit, but if you spend too much time on that you are suddenly a “marketing guru” and no longer the thing you wanted to be. And you haven’t won anyone over anyway. Because suddenly you are trying too hard and it feels fake. So the move to just be authentic, rather than “write the kinds of posts that will get more readers” feels very liberating and much more in keeping with what I am trying to create.

    Hopefully this will keep my posts on the inspired side of epic, even if every not single post impales you on the flaming sword of epicness. :+)

  13. With ya, Sharon. I’ve been checking out a lot of ‘professional’ blogging sites for a couple of years, all full of tips and tricks and lists. And it all seems like a closed loop of desperation and patheticness. Not only is most of it just re-hashed garbage, but also I would much rather that I gain my likes and clicks and comments based upon my unique content, rather than hot topics and trendy buzzwords.
    Hang tough, Sister! Cream will rise to the top!

  14. Thanks for your response, Sharon. The thing about “marketing” to the communities we serve, work/play for, entertain and pray with is they are too smart to be marketed to! I want people to participate in the things I offer because they love learning and doing them, not because I hammered them with marketing or schemed them into signing up. Muah!

  15. LOL Angus! Totally!!

    Doing most of that stuff would make me feel like I was insulting the intelligence of my community. (Like Karina mentions – our people are smart!)

    I have decided I am not, nor will I ever be, a “Pro Blogger”. I am just me, and hopefully enough folks will think that is awesome. Because I don’t know how else to do it and when other people try to tell me how it feels icky.

  16. I really appreciate this, because I have been feeling very strangulated when it comes to blogging recently. I never have been able to stomach a bunch of marketing stuff because, when it comes down to it, that always feels forced to me, and not the kind of thing that is best for me. I blog to communicate and make connections if I can. The rest I am still learning as I go along. Being human is more important to me than appearing to know more than I actually do. In other words, long story short, I feel what you’re saying. You be you. And thank you for making me think.

  17. Great post, Sharon – I think, in the end, it comes down to what you want from your blog. I’m not a believer in the concept of “one right way” for blogging or anything else.

    I think formulas have their place – if, as you say – you wanted to write purely to bring people to your blog and for the search engines (of course, once they arrive, you have to figure out how to keep them too, and yep – your readers aren’t dumb!) But that’s not going to be right for everyone, and there’s no reason that because it works for someone else, it should work for you.

    In the end, I think the most important thing is that you’re writing what feels authentic for you. And that’s definitely what I’m picking up in this post.

    Blessings

    TANJA

  18. Just dropped in to say “Hi!” and look what I found: a timely and extraordinarily well written exposition! Well, really, did I expect anything less than inspirational? Of course not!

  19. Love this post Sharon. I started off blogging one way then changed because i thought i had to do it another way if it was going to be a ‘proper’ blog and now i’m in the process of going back to the way that felt really natural and more me! You have a great, strong voice full of passion which sounds beautifully authentic. Throw out those shoulds and supposed to’s and keep doing what you do best – it has to be the best way! ♥

  20. Thank you friends –

    For coming by and saying hi, for encouraging me and all that. :+) It is such a relief to let go of the worry of how to do it right, and to just do it.

  21. I’ve read all the comments prior to mine and they all make great points, and my contribution is this: I come here because I am a fan of your music and because I am interested in YOU. If you want to write and share your day-to-day life, then do it, simply because it is that life of yours – all the things you see and hear and do – that inspires your music, and so to write about your life is to write about what inspires you, thus giving us, your readers, a peep into your creative process. I love to read about other artists’ inspiration and the resultant creativity, and if washing Winter’s socks or mopping the floor (or whatever else) does it for you, then I am genuinely interested in that kind of connection. It may ultimately lead me to view certain aspects of my own life in a new way, thus providing me with inspiration of my own. If it doesn’t, then I still get to read words from someone that I like a whole hell of a lot and respect immensely.

    Should you ever wonder again if what you’re writing will make any kind of difference, just remember that no matter how small or seemingly insignificant the pebble, the one tossed into the water is the one that creates a ripple. I know you’ve got plenty of pebbles, so why not toss ’em?

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